Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Eva sat stirring the corn on her plate. Her head rested heavily on the closed fist of her hand. She sighed heavily, a bid for attention, and left her corn for the small pile of diced peaches. Her fork scraped against the glass plate. She glanced up, but I continued to read, ignoring the pleas for attention that I knew would just lead to an argument. It’s how we had lived for the last few weeks. She sat and sighed, I checked to see what was wrong, food would ultimately be splattered across the table and floor as I yelled at her to clean it up. My frustration would lead to tears and she would walk away, spending her triumph in giggles.

I heard the top of her hamburger bun softly thud on the floor and her even softer “oops.” I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. As she started tapping her fork on the plate, I recognized that it wasn’t going to work. Deep breaths, ignoring her, none of it was going to work. It wasn’t in my nature to be so passive.
I smiled, put the book down, walked to the silverware drawer and got out a small spoon. “Mama, I don’t want to eat this,” my little Eva said as I sat down opposite from her.

I leaned in close to her. “I thought that was what you were going to say.” Then leaning a little bit closer I whispered conspiratorially, “What do you think we should do with it?”

I could tell the game had changed. She sat silent, contemplating for a few seconds and then responded defiantly. “I want to make a mess.”

Taking a scoop of sloppy joes, I looked at her and said “Okay.” Watching the look of shock on her face as the sloppy joes splattered across her chest was going to make cleaning up this mess so worth it.

*** Daily Writing Practice

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Louis had dreaded the day that John would leave her for the promises of heaven. She had painstakingly worked to keep him on the Earth, leaving his side only when she had no choice. Giving his hand a gentle squeeze, she got up and went to the bathroom. It was the doctor who had stopped by to check on John’s vitals and explained to him about the heart attack and that he was now a widower.

*** Daily Writing Practice

The Man I Use To Be

My blonde curls bounced as I walked through the long marble corridor to the clicking of my heels. My keys jangled to the beat as the dangled limply from my hand, rests in the melody caused by them softly brushing against my skirt. I knew the men were looking at me, wondering if they had seen me before. I was more familiar to them than they could possibly have guessed.

Reaching the reception desk, I smiled at the young woman sitting at the computer. I was relieved to see she was hired within the last year. “Hello,” I said catching her attention, “I have an interview at 2:00 with Mr. Brisely for the engineering position.” Her attention slid back to her computer and she pulled up his schedule.

“What is your name?”

“Martina Mayfield.”

After affirming my appointment she said, “Ms. Mayfield, you can have a seat and I will let Mr. Brisely know you are here. He’s running a few minutes behind so you may need to wait a bit.” I smiled at the young woman and sat down in one of the low chairs across from the desk. Alternating between watching the clock and flipping through a home design magazine, I waited.

“Ms. Mayfield?” the receptionist called, “Mr. Brisely can see you now.”

Standing up, I smoothed down my skirt and picked up the small sachet I had brought with me that contained my resume, references, and other documents. Mr. Brisely met me at the door to his office and shook my hand forcefully. I tried to remain demure and not challenge the authority he was clearly communicating through the aggressive handshake. “Good afternoon Ms. Mayfield. Please have a seat.”

I sat in the chair across from his desk, the sachet across my crossed legs. He remained standing. “Ms. Mayfield, I am very sorry to have wasted your time this afternoon. I misread your resume and thought you were Mr. Martin Mayfield, the renowned engineer. Had I noticed that it was Ms. And not Mr…… Well, it’s a good ol’ boys club, Ms. Mayfield and I don’t think you would feel very welcomed here I am afraid. It was, however, very nice to meet you. You are a beautiful woman and I am sure you will find work through another company.”

I walked in shocked silence as he escorted me back out to the reception area less than two minutes after I had left it. As my heels clicked through the marble corridor down a floor, I smiled a victoriously and thought, “If only he knew that the person he was looking for was the man I use to be.”

*** Daily Writing Practice

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Rose, her deep brown curls falling in front of her face, sat stirring her morning coffee at the last table in the row. I plopped down across from her, anxious to hear how her date went with the extremely hot salesman from Home Depot.

She didn’t wait for me to ask a question before she said, “You know how we watch TV and some of the characters think that if they pay for dinner the person they are with owes them a good time? Well, that guy could have been one of them.”

*** Daily Writing Practice

Friday, May 4, 2012


“I am both excited and terrified,” I confided. “Everyone seems to think that it is all going to be fun and games in the hot, hot sun.” I sighed, remembering the week or two that I had thought the same thing. Sunshine, humidity, the ocean, dancing, bright colors, three toed sloths—I had been seduced. “But what they don’t seem to realize is the sheer amount of work it will be. It’s not like I am sitting on a beach every day. My time will be filled with classes, strange customs, misunderstandings, and who knows what else! It gives me a headache just thinking about it.”

I sighed again, wondering if it really was the right choice. “And then there is the issue of leaving my kids at home. I’ve never been away from them for more than a week and that has only happened once. They want to talk to me every day and I’ve promised that they can do that, but it will be detrimental to my adjustment. I want to tell them that it isn’t an option anymore, but that isn’t an option either.”

I looked at my reflection in the mirror. There was a brief moment of silence. “Stop talking to yourself!” I finally said as the voices of my family floated through the door.

*** Daily Writing Practice

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Man Upstairs

I pulled the note off the door as I walked into the house. Stumbling, I dropped the two bags of groceries in an effort to catch myself. I could see the bright yellow yolks of the eggs on the floor and felt a dull throb in my thumb where it had bent back further than was customary. “Sarah!” I yelled as I salvaged the radishes and lettuce from under the chair. “Sarah! Come get your damn dog.” The darling little terror of a puppy was pulling playfully at the belt on my jacket. I reached under the couch and picked up the can of tomato paste. “Sar…”, My yell was interrupted by an unexpected tongue traveling across my lips and cheek.

Off my knees, I walked to the sliding glass door and let the puppy outside. I tried to remember why I agreed to her getting a puppy. Ahh! That’s right; it was a bad break-up with the guy she was dating once again. “Sarah?” I called again. The puppy yipped at the door. I turned around and grabbed the roll of paper towels off of the counter. The eggs still needed to be cleaned up.

Fifteen minutes later, the eggs were cleaned up, the bags were hanging on the hook, and the puppy was now jumping on the glass. I walked over to let the dog in and remembered the note. I found it under the same chair the radishes had been under.

                “Please watch Manny for me. I’m out with Eric! Don’t let him go downstairs! He’ll roll in the clean clothes and we’ll have to do them all over.”

I looked around and didn’t see Manny. I had a feeling Sarah hadn’t shut the door before she left and the clothes were already strewn all over the floor and probably stained. “Man, upstairs,” I called. “Come on Manny! Come upstairs!”

I had a feeling it was going to be a very long night.

*** Daily Writing Practice

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Odds

“Where did you get that?” a girl in her mid to late twenties asked while reaching for the photograph in my hand.

I pulled my hand back and turned to face her. Her hair was pulled back into a messy pony-tail. Loose pieces trailed down her neck and over a multi-colored scarf and the straps of her white tank top. She wore dozens of bracelets and a pair of gloves that covered her hands, but not her fingers. A short black skirt covered torn leggings that were further hidden by the heavy military boots. I took a step back as she leaned in toward the photograph.

“I’m sorry. Do I know you?” Challenge and confusion filled my voice.

She leaned in again, reaching for the photograph. “Seriously, where did you get that?”

I stepped backward and pulled the picture out of her reach. Her appearance bothered me. I wanted to write her off as homeless or crazy which would allow me to ignore her. But I couldn’t. Somehow I felt I should know this young woman.

She dropped her hand to her side. I looked into her face. Her blue eyes were startlingly dark, much like the eyes of a newborn. She had high cheek bones, a small nose, and thin lips which she had tried to plump up with lipstick. Her make-up sat too heavily on her face. She would have been prettier without it. It took me a few seconds before I realized she was waiting for an answer.

“Why does it matter to you?” My voice had softened. I was no longer anxious to make her move on. It was odd. Usually I avoided women her age. I found them to be rude, senseless, entitled, naïve. Her first impression certainly left that impression, but there was something so familiar about her face that kept me drawn to her.

“It’s of someone I use to know well.” I waited for her to elaborate, my eyes constantly searching her face for an answer. I couldn’t find one. She pointed at the photograph and raised her eyebrows as if to ask me what I was waiting for. I moved my hand so the photo was between us. She looked down at it, her hand brushing the edge. I watched her expression change, soften.

When she looked back up, she was back to being the rebellious kid she first appeared to be. “I’ll give you $10 bucks for the picture.” She pulled some wrinkled ones from the pocket in her skirt and started smoothing them out. 

I glanced down at the picture. It was of a girl about 10 years younger than the one standing in front of me on a swing. Her eyes were closed and she looked like she was having a most pleasant dream. In the background was the blurry image of my best friend, Steve, pushing the child on the swing.

“Do we have a deal?” She snapped some bubble gum and held out the chaotic pile of money. Her eyes bored into me.

“Makayla?” She lowered her eyes and I knew without a doubt that it was her. “He died a month ago of cancer. He left me a box of photos to pass on to you kids. Johnny took most of them, but I pulled this out because your dad left a message for you on the back of it.” I handed her the photo and stood waiting for whatever would come next.

*** Daily Writing Practice

The Favor

Frantically I searched the floor and front seat for loose change in the short time I had before the next car would edge forward. Finding nothing, I carefully opened the door and scanned the pavement for a glint of silver. It was my turn to edge to the front and my searching had turned up nothing. “It looks like the gentleman in front of you did you a favor,” the toll attendant said as she waved me through the raised metal arm.

*** Daily Writing Practice

The Program

The gates had deteriorated since my last visit. One hung at an odd angle, as if the hand of God had attempted to push it over. I tried to remember them as they had been when I walked through them as a child, but I couldn’t see past the stones over grown with moss and rust that covered the tall, slender bars. A deep sigh filled the space. I turned to see who was behind me, but it was only the wind squeezing through the broken out windows of the naked barn. I remembered it being bright red with white trim. Turning back to the gates, I pulled my coat tighter around me and walked between the gates, my eyes straight ahead.

It was a different world on this side of the gate. The wild grass was replaced with worn paths, metal stakes, and small canopies protecting the ancient men and women who sat beneath them selling their equally ancient wares. I wondered toward the knot of people and stuff, avoiding eye contact and conversation. Two women stood at a table stroking an old metal picture frame, memories filling the otherwise empty middle. Further down, an old man rocked in a chair, his eyes closed and his mouth open. The few people around were caught up in a past I couldn’t understand or lost in a present I clung to.

I hated the flea market. I wouldn’t have come if I could have found anything in the modern world that would appease him. He belonged here amongst the reminiscers, junk, and the practical mummies that sold them. I couldn’t fathom what magic I had ever found in this place, why I begged and pleaded to come with him on the third Sunday of every month. I shuddered at the vision of my child-self walking through the stalls and trailing my hands over the disgusting pieces of unwanted things.

“Wha-cha looking for Miss?” I jumped and turned to face the man that had been sleeping in the chair. Up close, he seemed frailer than he had in the chair.

“I… I …. Ummm… I…”

He wiped his watering eye and pointed a shaking finger at my chest. Half of his mouth opened in what appeared to be a smile while the other side stayed close. It reminded me of when my father spoke with a pipe in his mouth. His thin voice broke through my thoughts. “I remember you. You used ta’ come here wish yourgrand fad’r. You was da only lid’l girl who liked ta’ here our stories. My wife lov’d ya. She always looked forward ta’ you comin’. She always made sure to have some cookies baked doze Sata’days.”

I stood and stared at him, trying to find he and his wife in my memories. I thought I saw them, a woman with chocolate chip cookies and marvelous stories waved at the peripheral of my memories. My heart skipped a beat and I felt myself leaning forward to be closer to the wisp of a person that stood before me. “I’m actually here looking for a gift for my grandfather. He’ll turn 100 in a couple of days. I was hoping to find something that he would understand and appreciate. Maybe you could help me?”

He turned and walked back to his chair, his feet shuffling slowly through the dirt path. He settled down. I wasn’t sure if he had heard me or if the short trip had exhausted him. He reached into a small box next to his chair. “You’ grand fad’r is a great man. We had many talks while you sat wish ma’ beautiful Betty. A great man.” 

He sat up straight, a small pack of what looked to be loose papers tied together with a piece of string rested in his hands, which lay loose in his lap. “Take deese. Dare’s no cost. It’s a thank you to him. He is a great, great man.”

I picked up the sheath of papers, thanked him warmly, and left a $20 in his change jar. Sitting on the bus a half an hour later, I began flipping through the papers. Most of them were worthless. Or so it seemed to me. One held my attention. My grandfather’s name was written in small, tight letters at the top of the program for Purple Heart recipients.

*** Daily Writing Practice

Belt: Friday Fiction

I pushed aside the underwear and socks hoping to find it mixed in. It wasn’t there. I glanced around the room wondering where else he could have left it. I knew I didn’t have much time, but the belt was an absolute necessity. I couldn’t leave without it. I bit my lower lip and decided to look in the closet. I found one, buried in the pile of dirty clothes on the floor. If it wasn’t the same one he had worn on my 16th birthday, it looked exactly the same and it would have to work.

Grabbing it from the pile, I ran out of the room and carefully slipped it around him. Pulling it snug, I tucked the unattached end through the loop and sat down to wait. It seemed like an eternity, but he finally turned his head and looked at me. Confusion clouded his face.

I moved closer, wanting to get the moment exactly right. “Are you ready?” I asked with my face only inches from his.

He tried to shrug away, but stopped when he felt the tension close around his neck. Panic spread across his face. Goosebumps rose on his limbs, sweat beaded on his bare chest, and he stuttered out a desperate plea. “P-p-please. Don’t.”

I smiled at him. “That sounds like a yes to me.” Stepping back, I pulled on the free end of the belt, forcing him to rise up on his toes to keep it from strangling him. 

I approached him again. His face was red as he gasped for air. Tears streamed down his face. “Shhh, shhh, shhh. It will all be over soon.” I checked to make sure the loop was secured to the ceiling, that it could support more of his weight. Then I pulled the belt two more holes and hooked it together.

Standing in front of him, I watched him slowly die.

*** One Minute Writer

A Mix of Minis

Health Care

If those with the ability to make the changes had to walk in the shoes of those who struggle most with the current system, I think they would have a very different view of what the real problems are. So the addition of compassion... or perhaps empathy is the change we need.
If I were to start teaching a class tomorrow, it would be "How to Freak Out with a Sincere Smile". You see, in just a couple of short weeks I am going to Costa Rica for a month... by myself. My two young children and husband are staying home. I am freaking out about making all the necessary arrangements before I leave and about the trip itself! But, I keep smiling at everyone who asks me how the preparations are going.
I watched an interesting TED talk last week. It talked about how money can buy happiness, but not in the way we expect. Money only buys happiness when we spend it on someone else. The person, reason, and amount make no real difference. A cup of coffee from Starbucks for a friend was worth as much happiness as a large donation to a charity. If I had more money, I would spend it on happiness.

*** One Minute Writer


From a distance, it is a beautiful dance. Assemblé. Pointe. Tendu. Arabesque. Relevé. They are awed by the shapes, the control, the speed and power of it all. Emboite. Glissade. The melodious praise seduces me. It makes me forget that it is all an illusion. And so, I wake up the next morning renewed and ready to perform it again, but only at a distance. Penche. En face. One day, perhaps, if I believe as strongly as the others, I too can believe that my life is harmonious. That he didn’t leave me ravaged and desolate like the path of a tornado. Promenade. Pas marché.
*** Daily Writing Practice***

April 26, 2012 5:28 PM

The Strawberry Kingdom

To be read from the perspective of a snail living in a strawberry garden:

A scant sunray slid over the patch, warning us that the darkest part of the day would soon be upon us. Quickly, we gathered our small wares and retreated into the depths of the brush. The rays intensified, causing the shadows to pull into themselves and our hearts to beat faster. It wouldn’t be long before the eerie red glow would encompass us. “Be silent. Be still. Be small. Be silent. Be still. Be small.” The mantra looped through my mind like the tender roots linked to each other ran below our community. We needed both to survive, although I would have gladly shed the previous if it wouldn’t lead to my immediate demise.

I could hear the familiar beating of my heart being accompanied by a much slower beating. I didn’t need to look to know that dark shadows were streaking madly above us. I could see the shapes change from a large soft grey cloud to the deep black bullet that would ultimately end another life even with my eyes closed. It would only be a matter of time, probably a few seconds, before they alighted. With luck, the earth they kicked up would provide us extra shelter.

Luck was hard to come by though. Like chance, it was finicky and refused to be held to any measurable pattern. The earth would save some of us while sacrificing others. I couldn’t remember a day passing that I hadn’t lost a loved one or that a friend didn’t commiserate over the loss of a cousin or father or friend. I felt the ground give way. They were upon us. “Be silent. Be still. Be small,” I thought. “Be silent. Be still. Be small.”
*** Daily Writing Practice*** 

April 24, 2012 11:49 AM